How Long Can I Receive Benefits for a Work Injury?

Posted on June 04, 2021

The length of time a worker can receive workers’ compensation benefits depends on the type of work-related injury or illness and the disability category assigned by state laws.

Workers’ Compensation in Illinois

When a work injury occurs, it can have a big impact on a worker’s health, finances, and lifestyle. Depending on the severity of the injury, a worker may be faced with high medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering that requires ongoing rehabilitation or therapy. Most workers who get injured on the job have two primary questions: “How much will workers’ compensation benefits pay?” and “How long will workers’ compensation benefits last”?

The answers to these questions may not be straightforward. Workers’ compensation is controlled at the state level and laws vary between states, so a worker’s employment location is key to claims and benefits. In Illinois, all workers’ comp claims are handled by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC), a state-run organization that reviews work-related claims and determines appropriate benefits for injuries.

In Illinois, nearly all workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for work-related injuries and illnesses, as defined by state law. Once a claim is approved by IWCC, benefits are typically paid to a worker in weekly or bi-weekly payments. If a claim is denied, a Chicago workplace injury lawyer can file an appeal with IWCC and schedule a meeting to review the claim. If necessary the workplace injury lawyer can file a personal injury lawsuit that will be handled through the Illinois court system.

Payments and Timeline for Benefits

Workers’ compensation payments and the duration of payments are based on IWCC regulations that categorize work-related injuries. The four categories that impact the duration of workers’ compensation benefits are Temporary Total Disability; Temporary Partial Disability; Permanent Total Disability; and Permanent Partial Disability.

Temporary Total Disability

Temporary Total Disability (TTD) is assigned when a worker is completely unable to perform his/her job duties but is expected to make a recovery and return to work at some future date. With a TTD assignment, workers’ comp benefits will continue until a physician determines that the worker has reached maximum medical improvement and maximum healing.

Temporary Partial Disability

Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) is assigned when a worker is able to return to his/her job on light-duty or perform part-time work during the recovery period. With a TPD assignment, workers’ comp benefits are paid at the worker’s normal wage through recovery. Benefits end when a physician determines the worker has reached maximum medical improvement.

Permanent Total Disability

Permanent Total Disability (PTD) is assigned when a worker suffers injuries that leave him/her permanently disabled and unable to perform any job duties. PTD is often assigned when a worker loses limbs such as hands, arms, legs, feet, or suffers vision loss. With a PTD assignment, workers’ comp benefits are usually paid weekly for life.

Permanent Partial Disability

Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) is assigned when a worker loses total or partial use of a body part, such as a hand, arm, leg, or foot leaving him/her unable to perform some of the job duties that were a normal part of employment prior to the injury. In Illinois, there are four types of PPD benefits and each type has a timeline for benefit payments:

  • Wage Differential Benefits – Some workers may be able to return to work but may have lower earnings due to a PPD assignment. Wage differential benefits allow a worker to collect two-thirds of the difference between previous wages and new wages. Wage differential benefits end after 5 years or when the worker reaches age 67, whichever comes later.
  • Scheduled Injury Awards – With a scheduled injury award, a worker can collect weekly PPD payments that match 60% of his/her average weekly wage. Illinois sets a maximum number of weeks for payments based on the specific body part that sustained injuries. Workplace injury lawyers can provide more information on these awards.
  • Non-Scheduled Injury Awards – If an injury to a body part is not listed on the IWCC benefits schedule, a worker may receive benefits equal to 60% of his/her average weekly wage prior to injury for up to 500 weeks, based on the physician’s disability rating for the injury.
  • Disfigurement Benefits – If a worker suffers permanent disfigurement of a body part, he/she can receive up to 162 weeks of benefits at 60% of his/her average weekly wage. Typically, this benefit is linked to the severity of the worker’s disfigurement.

Illinois workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits regardless of who is at fault for injuries, as long as injuries occur within the scope of the worker’s normal employment duties. If injuries are caused by another person’s negligent actions, the worker may choose to pursue a personal injury lawsuit in civil court with a Chicago workplace injury lawyer to recover damages.